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Monday, January 03, 2011

How I Spent My Winter Vacation

Last night in the shower, I started mentally composing this blog entry in the style of the 4th grade vacation report. It amused me for long enough for the conditioner to do its thing, but finally I decided to cut to the highlights reel.

The first week was a flurry of preparation for Christmas. Saturday and Sunday were Dickens, with Gaskell Ball on Saturday night with my beautiful new gown from Kim (thank you Kim!), then the usual late run-time on Sunday, the after-party, an hour of hot-tubbing at 10:30, then home and back again for tear down on Monday. By Monday night, I was dead. We almost didn't do a post-tear down dinner, but finally we'd dawdled enough to make going to Forbidden Island the right answer. Four hours later, we stumbled home.

All I wanted for Tuesday was sleep, but we had an 11 a.m. appointment with Dorothy, our financial planner. Then we came home and Erik went off to tutor. Then I spent an hour trying to figure out the best way to ship gifts to Cape Cod in time for Christmas morning. My initial instinct to put it all in a 16x16x16 box turned out to be problematic because it's considered an oversized box, so I split it into two boxes, then reevaluated, and finally went with the one box again after unpacking and repacking again. Yeesh. The gifts arrived on time and in good condition, so that's a win.

I also had a leaky front tire. Spent an hour and a half at Wheel Works getting it patched. This didn't have the happy end that Erik had with the little shop in Los Altos that did it for him a month ago. They took 10 minutes and didn't charge him even though he had never been there before. I spent an hour and a half after a 45 minute quote over the phone and a 1 hour quote at the shop, and then two days later my low tire warning light came on again. So, now I need to plan to go back again, or maybe just plan to get new tires (they're about 80% through their useful life) at the nifty little shop in Los Altos.

The Christmas in Sacramento whirlwind was just that - drove up just in time to pick up my mom, head to Grandma's house, do the family dinner and gifts/cards swap, then home to Mom's house for more presents, then up in the morning for a cup of tea before running to Shingle Springs for Christmas with Dad at Howard and Debbie's place, then dashing out of there to Davis to meet Erik's tenant for a final walk-through, swinging past Hare House to find Trey's family there and home back to San Jose. Slept in the next morning a bit, but up in time to go shopping and make roasted root veggies and apple pie for Boxing Day dinner with Mackenzie and BJ.

So, that was pretty much how my holiday season went from dead-run as fast as I could move from Thanksgiving through Christmas to Monday, December 27th. This was the day that nothing would or could possibly entice me to leave the house. I got up, made coffee, watched tv, cleaned a closet, snuggled the cats, played Wii Lego Indiana Jones with Erik, did some laundry, and hid inside the house all day long. It was exactly what I wanted and needed. Now, I couldn't really do this every day, but as a brief lull in my usually hectic schedule, it was awesome.

The next day had more errands. Erik needed to get his car checked so we took it over and they said it would be ready in an hour, so we went off shopping for a freezer. Our freezer has been utterly taken over by offerings from Trader Joe, or Saint Joe, bringer of tasty, well-prepared foods. Back during the wedding, a lot of things would've been easier if we had a little more freezer space. Months ago, there was a freezer for sale at Target for $130. We thought about it, but passed it up, thinking we could do a bit better. A bit of shopping around and we started forming opinions. We're both short, so the chest freezers lacked appeal since we (at least I) can't reach the bottom, so things get lost in the vortex down there. So then we were looking at upright freezers. This got more expensive. We didn't need too large of one though. On Tuesday we went to Sears Outlet, Home Depot, Lowe's, Pacific Sales, and Sears (in that order). The best thing seemed to be the 8.8 cu. ft. freezer from Home Depot. Petite, but probably just fine for us. Weirdly, Home Depot was the ONLY place that carried something that small. It was that, or a 12 cu. ft. freezer. Hmm. So we came home determined to look up reviews and online options. Low and behold, Home Depot offered the freezer we wanted for $30 off, with an online-only special. But wait - there's a catch. Delivery: $114. Whereas the Lowe's site will offer any of their freezers with free delivery or you can order anything online and pick it up in store for free, Home Depot had nothing of the kind. I wrote them a quick note letting them know that this seemed kind of off, and they said that they were working on a site-to-store feature in the next year. Right. I replied again saying that this was kind of one of those things that will make me look to Lowe's first in the future since they seem to have my needs in mind, and they replied that there was nothing they could do. Now, I can think of lots of things to do - offer reduced price shipping, offer to honor the web price in the store, offer a discount coupon for anything in the store. A 10% off coupon would've fixed this utterly. But, they didn't, so we reevaluated. Originally, we'd looked at Craigslist (months ago), and this once again seemed like a good bet. There was a Frigidaire, 2 years old in Campbell that was perfect, but someone beat us to it by mere minutes. Wednesday we looked at a few, and came home with a Kenmore that's 12 cu. ft. for $100. Well, really, for $80, because when we said we'd be back after renting a truck, she gave us a discount. And when we went to rent a truck, Home Depot was out, but one of the parking lot lurkers offered to do it for $20, but then once the freezer was loaded, he changed his mind and wanted $40. We gave him $30 and called it good. So, nice, new-to-us freezer, works great. This also led to a nice cleanout of that corner of the kitchen and a reshuffle of the bookshelf for cookbooks and appliances. Yesterday we ran though Trader Joe's picking out things we'd passed up for lack of freezer space. Mwah-ha-ha!

And did I mention Indy Lego Wii? Yeah, I've spent more time playing video games in the last week than I've spent since 1998 (the infamous winter of Civ 2 where I lost a week to the game, including one banner day where I got up, promised myself one turn over cereal, and only quit when I noticed that the sun had gone down). It's a cooperative game, so Erik and I play together. It's also fun running around through the plot of some of my favorite movies, and yes, I'm planning to go back and do the mine car ride part of Indy in free play. Haven't we all wanted to do that since the day we first saw that movie? I sure did. Anyway, fun game, and I also really like the Lego concept of death=shattered Lego pieces that get reassembled rather than splattered blood and gore everywhere.

I think it was Wednesday or Thursday that we started referring to this week as the Adolescent Boy's Fantasy Vacation. It was the laziest I've been all year, and boy did I need it. Still, by yesterday afternoon, I was dreading getting up and coming to work in the morning. It's one of those, "it's work because they have to pay you to show up" kinds of days. Still, I'm getting back in the swing of it, tinkering away at the communications plan for one project for a meeting at 4. I do love the Stanford Winter Closure. If everyone takes a break at the same time, there's not a mountain of email to churn through and nothing to catch up on. Just start where you left off. It's one of my favorite things about working here. So, I'll just remember that and look forward to next time.


  • How do you like your financial planner? Can you send me an email about what she specializes in and how much she charges?
    I have been thinking the last few days that I need an informed second opinion on my retirement funds situation and sort of a game plan going forward.

    By Blogger Chrisfs, at 9:55 AM  

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